Growing up as a sibling of a sister with severe food allergies, my allergy free vacation diary from when I was a child is eye-opening considering the alternatives available now.
My sister, had a variety of severe food allergies. Dealing with food allergies in Israel, the land of sesame, nuts… and zero awareness of allergies, was not easy.
I remember scanning parties before my sister would enter, to make sure there was no Bamba, the local snack made from peanuts, that could be deadly for my younger sister who had an airborne peanut allergy.
I remember our first - and only - family vacation as a child.
My mother had been planning for months. You would think we were going to an exotic and beautiful place, and that she would be preparing all our bathing suits, passports, and special travel plans.
But that was not the case. She was mainly planning what and where we could eat. Writing long lists of food and products so she could cook while we were on vacation. Hotels were out of the question, as were restaurants. We would be renting a vacation home with a kitchen. In the days leading up
to the vacation, my mother spent hours in the kitchen, baking so we could have snacks on the trip that were safe for my sister.
I also remember her panicking because she forgot to book an appointment with my sister's doctor, to get an extra EpiPen and other allergy medication for the trip.
We only drove two hours away from home, in case we needed to get to an emergency room. We ate all meals in the vacation rental, and my mother spent most of the vacation cooking, except for two evenings, when my father barbecued dinner for us so she could have a break.
In the eyes of the 10-year-old that I was, the vacation was great. But I remember the days after we came back: My mother was exhausted, and I remember overhearing her saying to my father that the next time we should stay at home and just go out for day trips because the stress was not worth it. And that is what we did for the remainder of our childhood. We did not travel.
Today, as a mother, I understand the importance of a family vacation for the well-being of the whole family, and nowadays it is so important to build positive shared family memories. I also understand how important it is for a mother to be able to relax and enjoy the family vacation without stressing out every time her child wants to eat.
While working at Food Allergy Concierge (FAC), I have met several families who have never gone on vacation due to one of the family members’ allergies. I am so proud to be part of a company that can provide stress-free vacations for the whole family. Mothers included!
-Bracha B. Zanbar, Client Services Manager, FAC.